August 17/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 18,21-35.19,1. Then Peter approaching asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?"Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Windsor Hezbollah sign draws international attention.Trevor Wilhelm, The Windsor Star.August 16/07
Lebanon: One Year On. By Sean Gannon. August 16/07
A breakable link? By: John Davis. August 16/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for August 16/07
Gaza Christians Living Under Growing Islamic
Hizbullah Owns Sophisticated Weapons to Deny Israel Air Superiority, Analyst-Naharnet
PLO Restructures Lebanon Command to Deal with Challenge from Hamas-Naharnet

Hizbullah marks Lebanon war anniversary with pomp and piety.Christian Science Monitor
Enthralled by alchemy.Ha'aretz
The Israel-Hezbollah war, what went wrong?Power Line - Minneapolis,MN,USA
Now Showing South of Beirut: The Hizbullah Experience.Ya Libnan
Body of a journalist missing in Lebanon found in Kazakhstan. Ya Libnan
Oil pollution still poisons Lebanon's coastline. Ya Libnan

Canadian Citizens Say no to Hezbollah's terrorism & its infringements on Canada's laws & Security (quotations from the Windsor Star newspaper) published on August 16/07

The billboard. A message in its wake

Windsor Star
Thursday, August 16, 2007
For the vast majority of Canadians, the ceaseless unrest that has defined the Middle East is viewed from the safety of their living rooms and through the filter of news reports.
Occasionally, our streets will fill with protesters expressing their support for the various warring factions. Last summer, as Hezbollah and Israeli forces exchanged gunfire and bombs over Lebanon, there were protests in parts of the city. More recently, the conflict made headlines after a billboard was erected at the southwest corner of Marion Avenue and Wyandotte Street East. The sign did not mention Hezbollah by name, but featured a central image of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the controversial political and military group that represents Lebanese Shia Muslims and has clashed with Israeli troops for more than 20 years.
The billboard, which was taken down on the weekend, effectively promoted a group that has been defined by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization. Its leaders have consistently advocated the destruction of Israel.
In a bid to defend the sign, its sponsors said they were merely exercising their freedom of speech. "We're not trying to offend anybody. We have freedom of speech. It's a free country. We can do anything," said Hussein Dabaja, a Lebanese-born Hezbollah supporter.
"Every Lebanese in Canada has somebody that died in Lebanon, the freedom fighters. Who is Hezbollah? Our brothers, our family, our parents, our friends. We came to Canada and they stayed there to fight."
But a broad section of the public correctly viewed the sign -- and its direct link to a terrorist organization -- as an abuse of our freedom. "It should be offensive to all people living in Windsor," said Harvey Kessler, executive director of the Windsor Jewish Community Centre. "It should be offensive not only to the Jewish community, but to any Canadian."
Elias Bejjani of the Lebanese Canadian Co-ordinating Council, a collection of non-profit groups focused on educating people about Lebanese issues, was also offended. "It was more than somebody putting up a billboard. It is symbolic. As Canadians we cannot be neutral. There is no neutrality when it comes to terrorism."
Mayor Eddie Francis summed it up well when he said, "The politics of Lebanon belong in Lebanon, not on the streets of Windsor."Canada offers opportunity and peace to Dabaja and thousands of other Lebanese immigrants who chose not to "stay there to fight."They opted to live in a country that has spun thousands of success stories, particularly for immigrants who have fled the world's trouble spots. Canadians are not indifferent to the strife that has destroyed lives across the globe. But, Dabaja and other newcomers who now call Canada their home should focus on continuing the job of building one of world's greatest success stories.

Don't fall for propaganda

Windsor Star
David Harris/Ottawa
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
As someone involved for many years in counterterrorism, I share readers' horror at the spectre of Hezbollah billboards in Windsor.
This disingenuous propaganda, complete with invocations of "peace," reminds us that enemies among us have taken our full measure as a non-violent people. They hope soothing language will pacify and blind us to Hezbollah's operational reality as a racist, genocidal, supremacist Islamic operation. Add to the fact its agents have undertaken targeting reconnaissance in Canada against Canadian sites. We mustn't be duped by Hezbollah assurances that this Iranian-backed group has hospitals and social welfare programs in Lebanon. Such efforts are primarily used for cover, social control and the recruiting of jihadists for worldwide killer operations, including in Canada. That's why our government banned the organization as a designated terror group under Canadian law.We must know our enemy, not advertise for it.
David Harris/Ottawa

Windsor Hezbollah sign draws international attention

Trevor Wilhelm,
The Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2007
From Washington, D.C., to Lebanon, and Nigeria to Tel Aviv, Windsor is in the news.
Media outlets and bloggers around the world have been talking about Windsor this week after controversy erupted over a billboard that went up on Wyandotte Street with the face of Hezbollah's leader pasted front and centre. Ilan Goren, a foreign news reporter for Channel 10 News Israel in Tel Aviv, said he started following the billboard story after seeing it on a Hezbollah TV station from Lebanon. They showed the skyline of Windsor," said Goren.
The sign was erected Friday morning at the corner of Wyandotte Street and Marion Avenue, and immediately drew fire from the Windsor Jewish Community Centre, the Lebanese Christian political group Kataeb and others.
Among other Lebanese leaders, it prominently depicts Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the political and military group representing Shia Muslims. Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, was created in 1982 primarily to resist the Israeli occupation of Lebanon that lasted two decades.
The billboard was quietly replaced Monday morning with an advertisement for a car dealership, after sparking interest and debate around the world.
Mayor Eddie Francis said the Middle Eastern media's interest in the billboard confirms his earlier statement that "the politics of Lebanon are best left to Lebanon."
The publicity, he said, does nothing good for Windsor.
"The fact they're talking about the billboard doesn't help us," said Francis. "I don't think anyone in the Middle East believes -- I hope they don't believe -- that they will solve their problems on the streets of Windsor. This is not something Windsor will get engaged in, it will not be solved on Windsor's streets and we're going to leave it over there."
Abed Foukara, managing editor for Al Jazeera television's Washington bureau, said Wednesday he was considering sending a film crew to Windsor to document the controversy.
Foukara said he's mainly interested in the billboard because it went up around the same time as the first anniversary of last summer's war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
He said the billboard's location, so close to the U.S. border, is also interesting.
"It's fascinating that the billboard has come up in a part of the country where you can visibly see this side of the border," said Foukara.
Goren, from Tel Aviv, said he first saw a story about the Windsor billboard on Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV.
"We're hoping to do something about it," said Goren, who was trying to find video of the billboard. "It's really kind of interesting." still had a story posted about the billboard on Wednesday, with the headline "Sayyed Nasrallah on American borders. . . !!!"
Al-Manar reported, incorrectly, that the billboard is visible from the U.S.
"When you stand on the U.S. territories at the Detroit riverbank in Michigan State and look towards the opposite side, you will see a huge picture of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah surrounded by a number of Lebanese figures," the story claimed.
Al-Manar also claimed shopkeepers near the billboard welcomed the sign because it was drawing so many people to the area.
That story is followed by several comments from people as far away as Australia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Germany, Lebanon and Algeria.
"I am extremely proud of those who put that poster and did not fear the reaction of the Canadian authorities. Bravo," a person named Fatima wrote from Algeria., a leading online news agency in Israel, also posted a story on its website with the headline, "Jews, Christians censure Nasrallah sign in Canada."
The website offers a chance for feedback on the story and there are dozens of comments, from locales including India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. "As offensive and shocking as it may be, this display of terrorist advocacy will surely provoke discussion of community values and hopefully there will be lines drawn rather than tolerating evil in the name of 'multi-culturalism,'" wrote Akiva Patysh, from River Forest, Ill.
The billboard is also a hot topic on several dozen blog sites from around the world, such as The Discerning Texan, and, most of which have hundreds of comments attached. or 519-255-5777, ext. 642© The Windsor Star 2007

Propaganda or free speech?
Renee Charron
The Windsor Star 2007
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
I find it incredible the Hezbollah billboard was allowed to be put up in Windsor. Hezbollah opposes the West, seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state, and seeks to eliminate Israel. Hezbollah, whose name means "party of God," has been implicated in terrorist actions targeting Jews, Israelis and western targets around the world. The elimination of Israel has been one of the group's primary goals, which they claim will bring peace to the Middle East. The people who erected this billboard claim they want peace, so what they're really saying is eliminate Jews and there will be peace, right? They believe acts performed against Israel are justified acts of jihad.
What is incredulous is that in the article, Mr. Dabaja states Canada has "labelled Hezbollah as a terrorist without having respect for the Muslim people." So I guess the suicide bombings, violence and attempted genocide of the Israeli people have nothing to do with Hezbollah being on the terrorist list. Maybe the government will give some respect to Muslims once they stop promoting and importing violence. Canada is not a place where Hezbollah supporters can continue their propaganda in the name of freedom of speech.
Renee Charron/Windsor

Billboard is harmless

The Windsor Star 2007
J. Deslippe/Windsor
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
Regarding the billboard honouring fallen freedom fighters in Lebanon, I urge all religious factions not to bring their fight here to Windsor. The billboard is harmless, although the funds would have been put to better use had they been sent to those in need in Lebanon. Also, I personally know several Lebanese Canadians who feel Hezbollah is indeed a terrorist organization. I would remind all immigrants there are many great things about living in Canada; one being that you are free to criticize our government as much as you want, and the other being that you are free to leave any time if you don't like it.
J. Deslippe/Windsor

Who is Lebanon fighting?
The Windsor Star 2007
R. Palmer/Windsor
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
How comforting. It seems we were wrong all along. Supporters of the Hezbollah billboard ensure us they are promoting freedom, freedom fighters and peace. They're not terrorists at all. We can all sleep well. The trouble is, Lebanon is not under attack by anyone. So from whom are they fighting for freedom? What Hezbollah has done is make unprovoked incursions across the border into Israel to kidnap and kill Israelis and instigate a war costing thousands of lives.
Your actions are so loud, I can't hear what you're saying.R. Palmer/Windsor

Billboard was offensive

The Windsor Star 2007
Ron Marshall/Windsor
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
It's obvious this sign is very controversial and for that reason alone it should come down. Mr. Dabaja says it is needed to honour those who are fighting for Lebanon's freedom. As a Canadian I am not interested in what is going on in Lebanon, although it did upset me when it cost Canadian taxpayers more than $100 million to rescue those with dual citizenship from vacationing in their country last year. Mr. Dabaja says it is their Canadian right of free speech. I would agree except when free speech threatens or offends others, and clearly this sign does. What's next, bloodshed on the streets of Windsor?
If it is so important to honour this group that our Canadian government has labelled as terrorists than erect the sign somewhere in Lebanon where it belongs.
Ron Marshall/Windsor

Be sensitive to all beliefs

The Windsor Star 2007
Jeff Ryan/Windsor
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
The billboard is down now, but this letter is not moot. It is very sad some people who emigrate to Canada declare it their right to be offensive to many Canadians.
It is also extremely unsettling that Hassan Nasrallah, of Hezbollah (declared a terrorist organization by many governments) would be compared by Hussein Dabaja to Jesus: "They keep talking about Nasrallah. Nasrallah for us is a red light. It is like saying Jesus is bad." (The Windsor Star, Aug. 13)
Although it seems to be forgotten at times, this country was founded on Christian principles.
If you want me to be sensitive to your beliefs, be sensitive to mine, and to those of many in your new home.
Jeff Ryan/Windsor

Terrorism is not peace

The Windsor Star 2007
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
Hezbollah is recognized worldwide as a terrorist organization. It's supporters try to deflect this by highlighting charitable work the group does, but only for its own supporters. They say Hezbollah wants to bring about peace but, peace through terrorism is not peace at all. Terrorism is not the Canadian way.
Canadians are peaceful people. We open our doors to people but there are certain expectations we have of them. We expect them to leave their religious and political disputes behind and to live peaceably here with people of all faiths and political learnings. We want them to support and understand democracy. We certainly do not expect them to openly support terrorist groups.
If the local Hezbollah supporters can't do this, then they should not be allowed to stay in Canada. They don't understand the meaning of democracy and they don't understand that terrorism is anathema to Canadians.
Doug Smith/Amherstburg

Sign an affront to peace

The Windsor Star 2007
Marcia Sugar/Toronto
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2007
In response to Aug. 14 article, Billboard Disappears: Backers Defend Controversial Sign. Since 2002, Hezbollah has been officially banned by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization. Thus, it is an affront to all law-abiding and peace-loving Canadian citizens to learn that an oversized billboard with Hezbollah supporter Hassan Nazrallah's image appeared in Windsor. Hezbollah is renowned as a jihad terrorist organization whose funding largely comes from Iran, and whose principal goals are to rid Lebanon of all Christian influence and to eradicate the State of Israel. It is unconscionable that Canadian goodwill and tolerance should be abused and our strong belief in free speech and multiculturalism should be subverted by those who pose a threat to us and to Western democracies by their hateful agenda. It is commendable the billboard was replaced, but it gives one pause such an inflammatory and objectionable sign could have ever appeared at all.
Marcia Sugar/Toronto

Hizbullah Owns Sophisticated Weapons to Deny Israel Air Superiority, Analyst
Hizbullah possesses sophisticated weapons to deny Israel air superiority over Lebanon, retired Lebanese army Gen. Elias Hanna said after Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah promised Israel a "big surprise" if it attacked Lebanon.
In a speech marking the first anniversary of the cease-fire that ended the Israel-Hizbullah war Aug. 14, Nasrallah warned Israel against striking Lebanon.

"You Zionists, If you think of launching an aggression against Lebanon, I won't promise you surprises like those that have happened, but I promise you a big surprise that could change the course of war and the destiny of the region, God willing," Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah did not elaborate on his threat but reiterated that his group possessed long-range rockets that could reach deep into Israel. Nasrallah has earlier said Hizbullah possesses 33,000 rockets.

His comments have not been independently confirmed, and the number and type of weapons Hizbullah owns are not known.

The U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended the war a year ago demands that Hizbullah disarm and prohibits the group from receiving arms shipments.

But Hizbullah has refused to lay down its arms, saying the weapons were needed to defend Lebanon against Israeli threats.

Retired army Gen. Elias Hanna told The Associated Press that he believes Nasrallah's speech shows that Hizbullah possesses thousands of advanced anti-aircraft missiles.

"Israel has air superiority. So Hizbullah must act to deny Israel this superiority by using advanced anti-aircraft missiles," Hanna said.

He said that in addition to Hizbullah's possession of long-range missiles, "there is a possibility that Hizbullah may have some sleeper cells inside Israel that could be activated in the event of war."

He also warned that Hizbullah could have sleeper cells abroad, though the militant group has denied this allegation.

In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said while there has been an improvement in security situation on Israel's northern border, concerns still remain.

"We are concerned, however, as to continued attempts of Hizbullah to rearm. Specifically, we are concerned that there is a flow of illicit weapons from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah in direct violation of the U.N. resolution, and we believe the international community should act against countries who by continuing to supply weaponry to Hizbullah are acting to undermine a U.N. security council resolution," Regev said.

Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also said he recommended taking Nasrallah's comments seriously.

"Nasrallah has never lied. He is cocky, he is arrogant, but at least from our experience with him, to my regret, what he has said, he has done. And when he says 'I have 20,000 missiles' I believe him," Ben-Eliezer told Israel's Army Radio on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council expressed "grave concern" at reports of arms smuggling to Lebanon, but dropped a direct call to Syria and Iran, Hizbullah's main allies, to enforce the U.N. arms embargo.

The council also voiced "deep concern" about recent statements by Nasrallah "that it retains the military capacity to strike all parts of Israel."

The war erupted on July 12, 2006, when Hizbullah fighters crossed the border into Israel and attacked an Israeli patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two. More than 1,000 Lebanese and 159 Israelis were killed in the war.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 16 Aug 07, 07:30

PLO Restructures Lebanon Command to Deal with Challenge from Hamas
The Palestine Liberation Organization has reportedly reorganized its command in Lebanon to confront challenges from Hamas Islamists, the World Tribune said.
It quoted officials in Nicosia, Cyprus as saying that the PLO plans to extend its authority from central to southern Lebanon.
According to the official, the PLO is seeking to strengthen its presence in Lebanon during the war that has been raging between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam terrorists in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.

The PLO was said to have been hurt by the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, which has strengthened the Palestinian Islamic movement in Lebanon as well, Middle East Newsline reported.

The World Tribune said on its online edition that the PLO has reshuffled its commanders and has appointed a new command in Lebanon.

It said Col. Khaled Aref, a senior PLO officer, has been transferred from the south to command forces in Beirut, while Fatah commander Munir Maqdah has been appointed the PLO representative in Sidon.

Officials, according to the World Tribune, said Aref and Maqdah would be responsible for Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut and the south, respectively. Beirut, 16 Aug 07, 08:23


A breakable link?
Despite current alliance, national interests of Syria, Iran not quite the same
John Davis Published: 08.16.07, 07:21 / Israel Opinion
While Damascus and Tehran appear to be demonstrating a united front, seeking to strengthen Iran’s expansionism in the Middle East and aggression towards Israel, Israeli government officials were recently reported as commenting that Syria is still not a satellite of Iran and can, in fact, be extricated from an Iranian "bear-hug."
Indeed, closer inspection of Syrian-Iranian relations reveals slight disparities between Iran’s objectives of regional expansionism and the national interests of Syria. With creative leveraging, Israel just might be able to seize upon the opportunity that these rifts provide to dismantle a key link holding the Iranian expansionist project together.
Despite the feeling after the Second Lebanon War that a moderate anti-Iranian axis could be created, recent events seem to indicate that the stock of Iran and its rejectionist allies is rising: Hamas handily defeated Fatah in Gaza, the Saudi Peace Initiative lost momentum, Lebanon remained frozen in a face-off while France appealed to Iran for its resolution, the Bush Administration finally engaged Iran over the future of Iraq, all the while Iran steadily progressed in its nuclear program.
As in Lebanon and Iraq, Iran has an interest in showing that it is inextricably linked to the resolution of key regional conflicts, including Advertisement
those that involve Syria. (This explains the recent reports – true or untrue – of the Syria-Iran strategic military deal.) Since such disputes can apparently not be solved without Iranian cooperation, Iran creates leverage over the international actors involved, such as France or the US, hoping that this will inhibit further international sanctions or a potential military strike against its nuclear program.
Thus, one way to undermine the Iranian expansionist project – whose ultimate goal is a region dominated by fundamentalists and absent of a Jewish state – is to dismantle the links from which Iran derives its immunity.
Cracks in network of resistance?
While Iran has sought to present a united front that includes Syria, a number of potential gaps in each country’s respective national interests tell a slightly different story.
Following the outbreak of the political crisis in Lebanon, Iran coordinated its position with Saudi Arabia and did not give its full backing to Syria over the issue of the international tribunal for the Hariri assassination – indicating a willingness to sideline Syrian interests when Iran needs to protect itself.
Regarding the future of Iraq, Syria has expressed interest in a strong central government in Baghdad with a secular Arab identity, while Iran prefers a weaker, more de-centralized Iraq in which religious Shiites dominate.
Furthermore, Syria’s national interest to negotiate the return of the Golan Heights with Israel fundamentally contradicts Iran’s priority of preventing any political process with Israel.
Removing Syria from Iran’s orbit of influence would be a significant blow to Iran’s aspirations for regional hegemony and immunity for its nuclear program. The key may be to place Syria’s national interests in conflict with Iranian expansionism.
On one hand, as long as Syria continues to facilitate the rejectionist activities of Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, it should remain isolated from the West, under international pressure concerning Lebanon and wary of the possibility of military action should it provoke Israel.
On the other hand, a tripartite US-Israel-Syria deal – something Assad has hinted at – may be emerging due to a convergence of interests among the three. While Syria wants carrots beyond resolution of its dispute with Israel, such as an end to pressure and isolation led by the US, Syria can actually help the US achieve its primary objective of stabilizing Iraq in addition to ending support for Hamas and Hizbullah and weakening Iran.
Israel may want to explore with the US the potential mutual benefits of containing the expanding Iranian threat by having the road from Damascus to Washington pass through Jerusalem.
**The author, John Davis, is an analyst at the Reut Institute

Enthralled by alchemy

By Israel Harel
When Ehud Barak reached a decision-making level in the army and eventually in the government, he was enthralled - as were others who came out of the ground forces - by the charms of technological solutions. These, and not traditional offensive and deterrent warfare, are supposed to solve Israel's security problems.
Barak took part in the decision to develop the Nautilus, based on laser technology, as a weapon against Katyushas fired by Palestinians, and after a while by Hezbollah from Lebanon. The Americans, who for a number of years collaborated with Israel in developing this response, concluded that it is expensive even for the American treasury and (perhaps) mainly, that it cannot provide an appropriate response to a number of rockets fired simultaneously.
Anti-ballistic missiles like the Arrow, launched after offensive missiles have been identified as having been fired from thousands of kilometers away - from Iran, for example - and interceptor missiles have enough time to hone in on offensive missiles.
In contrast, when short-range missiles are fired simultaneously (let us assume from the area of Rantis in western Samaria, eight kilometers from Ben-Gurion Airport), a few missiles will always break through the most sophisticated defense system. These would be enough to paralyze Israel's only international airport, with all the strategic significance of such paralysis.
The response to short-range missiles, as Lebanon should have taught, is preventive action by ground forces: an invasion of those missile-saturated areas, destroying them, and maintaining a presence in the area to prevent missile launches. Despite these lessons, the defense minister announced last week - as usual with great assurance - that "three to five years will pass before we develop the response to the missiles that are threatening the population centers." Therefore, in his opinion, "until that time there should be no talk of leaving the territories." That is, after we create "the response" we will leave the territories.
If Israel had had anti-Katyusha missiles during the Second Lebanon War, and could have intercepted 3,000 of the 4,000 missiles that were fired at northern Israel, would the strategic outcome have been different? Hundreds of thousands of civilians would have left the North even though only a quarter of all the Katyushas had fallen on them. The economic damage due to factory closures would have been no different, while the outlay by the military on research, development and production of thousands of short-range interceptors - which as noted would not provide a suitable strategic response - would have been huge.
Moreover, the Israel Air Force fired hundreds of rockets - much more advanced than short-range interceptors at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars each - against Katyushas and other Hezbollah weapons. But had those rockets been effective, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would not have been forced to appoint the Winograd Committee.
Criticism of Barak's statement focused on the political aspect (until the completion of the "response" we must not withdraw from the territories; that is, from the missile launch areas). No one criticized the concept proven wrong in both Lebanon and Gaza that where there is technology there is no need for strategic depth and fielding ground troops.
Unfortunately, instead of leading the nation's mood, Barak and many other high-level political and military leaders are following the mood of that part of the population that is tired of the struggle for its existence and has put its faith in technological or political alchemy.

Hizbullah marks Lebanon war anniversary with pomp and piety
At a rally commemorating the end of last summer's war, Sheikh Nasrallah promised 'big surprises' if Israel invaded again.
By Carol Huang
from the August 16, 2007 edition
Reporter Carol Huang in Beirut went to a Hizbullah rally celebrating the end of the 2006 war with Israel.Last summer, the sky above Beirut's southern suburbs was filled with Israeli warplanes; Tuesday night, it exploded with color as Hizbullah supporters came out in force to commemorate "the day of victory" that marked the end of the 2006 war with Israel. Packing an empty-lot-turned-outdoor-auditorium and spilling into crowded streets nearby, they waved Hizbullah and Lebanese flags as color-coordinated balloons bobbed overhead and fireworks shot off periodically.
On five elevated screens, the movement's leader – Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah – delivered a state-of-the-union address of sorts, evaluating Hizbullah's position on the one-year anniversary of a United Nations-brokered cease-fire that brought an end to the fighting.
In a 90-minute address, Mr. Nasrallah explained his take on international politics (the US and Israel want to divide and conquer the Middle East, but they won't succeed) and updated people on social-welfare programs (rent subsidies will continue for those whose homes still haven't been rebuilt). Recalling Hizbullah's destruction last summer of an Israeli warship that was shelling southern Beirut, and saying that no part of Israel was safe from Hizbullah's rockets, he underscored his main message: We're victors against terrible aggression and ready, if necessary, for more.
It's not exactly how the rest of the country views last year's 34-day battle with Israel, which left more than 1,000 Lebanese dead, 1 million displaced, and billions of dollars worth of buildings and infrastructure damaged.
Nevertheless, it's the message the Shiite Islamist "resistance" group has been reinforcing for the past month to boost morale among supporters. And the message is coming through loud and clear, not just because of Nasrallah's latest address but courtesy of commemorative events that include speeches, lunches, memorials, a battle reenactment, war exhibit, and a music video.
Most analysts agree that the war yielded no clear winner. Israel caused far more destruction in its enemy's territory, but didn't crush Hizbullah or retrieve its two soldiers whose kidnapping triggered the conflict.
Hizbullah mounted a surprisingly capable defense against its southern neighbor and, on that basis, has claimed Aug. 14 as the Day of Victory over what was widely recognized as the region's most powerful military.
Beyond Shiite strongholds, Lebanese have shown little interest in commemorating a month's worth of bombings that exacerbated the already-fragile political situation and struggling economy.
"Most Lebanese don't even know about [these events]," says Timur Goksel, a security analyst familiar with the group.
Hizbullah has been careful not to further aggravate tensions over the divisive war, confining festivities to the group's strongholds in south Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley to the north, and Beirut's southern suburbs.
The only signs of any war commemorations outside Hizbullah neighborhoods are the green banners displayed on all major roads leading in and out of Beirut. "Victory from God," they read, "We have the surprises."
But these notices have ruffled feathers in some neighborhoods that don't support the movement, admits Ghassan Darwish, director of information for the group's Beirut office.
Over the past month, Hizbullah has organized memorial and prayer services at heavily bombed sites in Beirut's southern suburbs, each held on location and on the date of destruction.
At one last week, Hizbullah "patriotic songs" welcomed guests over a loudspeaker as they took their seats. A sheikh recited Koranic verses and melancholy poetry about the victims of the bombing as a slide show looped through photos of each one. Relatives expressed their grief, while a neighbor named Mustafa said, "On the blood of these people the victory was won."
Hizbullah has also held lunches for families of war victims. And it reenacted Hizbullah's rocket attack on the Israeli warship.
A seven-week war exhibit in Beirut's southern suburbs displays other war booty, including battered Israeli tanks. Visitors begin their tour by entering a fake Hizbullah bunker complete with living quarters and an operations room. From there, they can stroll through an air-conditioned tent that features pro-war quotations from American and Israeli leaders, a video game simulating Hizbullah battles, and other wartime photos and memorabilia.
The exhibit is "very nice," says a chaperone of about 60 schoolboys here on a field trip. "It solidifies the idea that [Hizbullah] defeated the powerful Israeli army."
But more important than these "small" events attracting a couple thousand each, says Mr. Darwish, are Nasrallah's appearances. As the grand finale of Tuesday's speech – his third televised one in the past month – Nasrallah declared for the first time that Hizbullah had "big surprises" planned if Israel invaded again.
"[The speech] was very strong and very moving," says Aly, a spectator visibly awed by Nasrallah's promise. "Israel shouldn't think about making war because we're always ready."

Now Showing South of Beirut: The Hizbullah Experience

Thursday, 16 August, 2007
By Andrew Lee Butters
Beirut, Lebanon - Ever wonder what it's like inside a Hizballah bunker but not so eager to get kidnapped just to find out?
Well, for a short time and a short time only, anyone in Lebanon can do the next best thing and visit the new Hizballah museum in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where there is no admission charged and no blindfold required.
Imagine Britain's Imperial War museum with an Islamist militia makeover, and you've got the strangely-named ''Spider Web" museum, built to commemorate Hizballah's "Divine Victory" over Israel after their 34-day war last summer, which ended a year ago yesterday. Though just a temporary installation built on the rubble of a building destroyed during the war, the museum showcases the guerrilla organization's trademark attention to detail and its fearsomeness.
Designed like a sandbag fortress rising over a garden of inert land mines, armored vehicles and the occasional palm tree, the museum contains a display of Hizballah weapons and tactics, including the scale recreation of a front line bunker, complete with computer workstation, prayer rug and dish rack. Throw in a lava lamp and it could be a college dorm room.
Besides diagrams of the latest in Iranian and Russian anti-tank rocketry, and an ultra-violent Hizballah special forces video game, the display that I found most impressive was a plaque listing every single Israeli warplane that bombed Lebanon along with their squadron ID and home bases. Not only did Hizballah survive the bombardment, but its observers still had the presence of mind to keep score. Not bad for 3,000 regular fighters up against a regional superpower.
The Israelis portrayed in the museum are either dead (in mannequin form) war-crazed (photos of Israeli school children writing hate messages on artillery shells) or incompetent ("We will eradicate Hizballah within three days," trumpets former Israeli General Dan Halutz while next to him, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz looks through a pair of binoculars with the lens caps still on.)
But the "Death to Israel" stuff is of a piece with normal Hizballah propaganda. What's different about the museum as a whole is the bragging tone. Hizballah was once famous for being one of the few Arab organizations that let its actions speak louder than words. The new swagger shown since last summer is both a sign of newfound confidence, and of weakness. For though Hizballah may have won the war against Israel, it has not yet won the peace.
After the war, Hizballah launched a campaign to topple the current American-supported Lebanese government. Hizballah accuses the Lebanese government of collaborating in spirit with the so-called Zionist Entity by hoping that Israel would destroy Hizballah as a state-within the Lebanese state. But the Hizballah-led opposition campaign has been stalled for at least 8 months, in part because many Lebanese resent the fact that Hizballah unilaterally sparked a war that ended with almost 2,000 dead and billions of dollars in damage.
Plus, the cease-fire that took effect one year ago yesterday left Hizballah vulnerable. There are now some 13,000 United Nations soldiers enforcing the peace in southern Lebanon, making it difficult for the group to re-arm on its favorite turf. Moreover, a UN investigation into a series of political assassinations in Lebanon is closing in on Hizballah's patron-state, Syria, and there's talk of deploying UN troops along the border with Syria to prevent arms smuggling to Hizballah. To top it off, Israeli hawks say it's just a matter of time before their army returns to Lebanon to finish the job for good.
But the only thing more dangerous than a victorious Hizballah is a weakened Hizballah. If the UN soldiers in Lebanon ever started to seriously cramp Hizballah's style, the peacekeeping force would be toast. Lebanese history is littered with examples of foreign armies meeting their fate in this fractious hill country. Hizballah itself was born from the carnage of the disastrous 1982 Israeli invasion. A massive new invasion would only bring a phyrric victory at best. If Israel leveled half of Lebanon, some new danger would emerge from the rubble. And there will be no museums built after the next war, just lots of graves.
Source: Time Middle East Blog

Lebanon: One Year On
By Sean Gannon | 8/16/2007
On March 21, 1968, the Israeli army launched a raid on the town of al-Karameh. Four miles inside Jordanian territory, it was being used by Yasir Arafat's Fatah as a command center for attacks against Israel, the most recent of which had killed a doctor and a schoolboy three days before.
Although the Palestinians suffered 70% casualties and the complete devastation of their base, the fact that they managed, due to the spirited assistance of the Jordanian army, to hold out for almost a day and kill 28 Israelis in the process, allowed Arafat to declare the battle “the first victory of the Arabs against the state of Israel” and present it as an heroic Stalingrad-style success. In the words of PLO historian Abdallah Frangi, the fighting "restored the dignity and self-esteem of the Palestinians and the entire Arab world."
Al-Karameh represents the archetypal Arab “victory” in which success is determined not by conventional military criteria, but by the mere ability to survive. In 1973, for example, Egypt proclaimed a “most remarkable epic of victory” in the Yom Kippur War despite the fact that the IDF was within 60 miles of Cairo and the Egyptian Third Army hours from annihilation when the UN ceasefire was imposed. Eighteen years later, Saddam declared a “glorious victory” over the American-led “allies of Satan” that had driven him from Kuwait and decimated his army during Operation Desert Storm.
Hezbollah’s self-declared “strategic, historic victory, without exaggeration” in last summer’s Second Lebanon War was also cast from the al-Karameh mold. One week into the fighting, the Lebanese Daily Star’s Michael Young warned that Sheikh Nasrallah “needs only to survive with his militia intact and Israel sufficiently bloodied” in order to claim a success. And, by exploiting Israeli shortcomings, this he undoubtedly achieved.
Israel’s government-appointed Winograd commission of inquiry has documented the reasons for Hezbollah's "victory." One problem was the IDF’s over-confidence in its air force’s capabilities and the ill-readiness of its reserves for a large-scale campaign. In addition, having effectively ignored the threat of katyusha rockets since the May 2000 pullback from Lebanon -- “a matter of serious and long-term system-wide negligence," according to one Israeli defense source quoted in Ha’aretz -- Israel failed to counter their inaccuracy and small payloads. Not least, confused and uncoordinated Israeli decision-making throughout the 34-day conflict enabled Hezbollah to land punishing blows.
But the unremitting Israeli hand-wringing over the war’s “errors, mistakes and failures” cannot obscure the fact that Hezbollah suffered a significant military defeat at the IDF’s hands. Firstly, it lost between 600 and 700 of its most experienced fighters, more than were killed in the previous 20 years. Israeli losses were low by comparison, especially given Hezbollah’s preparedness; just over 100 IDF soldiers were killed in battle, one-quarter of these in a senseless last-minute surge that should never have happened. Hezbollah’s military infrastructure was also hit hard; its Beirut headquarters was reduced to heaps of rubble, its Viet Cong-type bunker and tunnel base system in south Lebanon suffered serious damage, while its extensive fortifications along Israel’s northern border were completely destroyed.
Secondly, Hezbollah’s Iranian/Syrian-supplied arsenal was severely depleted to relatively little advantage. Publicly, the Ayatollahs congratulated Nasrallah on the “wise and far-sighted leadership… that produced the great victory in Lebanon.” But there was behind-the-scenes anger that all Tehran had to show for its billion-dollar investment in its front line with Israel was two kidnapped soldiers and an Israeli bloodied nose. Of 1,000 anti-tank rockets fired by Hezbollah, only 50 hit their targets. And of these, just half caused serious damage.
Virtually all of Hezbollah's medium-range rocket launchers were destroyed after a single use. Moreover, in what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described as “an impressive, perhaps unprecedented achievement,” 95% of its long-range missile capability was eliminated on the war’s second night, neutralizing its threat to “strike Tel Aviv.” Meanwhile, 90% of the 4,000 katyushas deployed failed to strike anything of significance, and while the other 10% did cause damage and deaths (almost half of them Israeli Arabs), they failed to turn northern Israel into the wilderness long promised by Nasrallah.
Indeed, the war exploded his much-trumpeted theory that Israeli society’s horror of death would make it “weaker than a spider’s web” in time of war. While sensitivity to casualties did hamper operations in the field, the home front fully supported the expanding IDF effort even as one million moved into shelters and 300,000 headed south.
The war was a setback for Hezbollah on the strategic level, too. Having launched the kidnapping operation to force the release of three Israeli-held Lebanese prisoners, it ended the war with thirteen more members behind IDF bars. The Israeli retaliation also subverted Hezbollah’s justification for its refusal to disarm in accordance with UN resolutions, namely that, through its creation of “balance of fear and terror with the Zionists,” it constituted an essential element of Lebanon’s national defense. Israel would rather let Lebanon be, Nasrallah had assured Lebanese leaders two weeks before the war, than risk a missile attack on the northern third of its territory that contained, not only its petrochemical industry, but some of its most populous regions as well. Given the rather weak-willed responses of an Israel preoccupied with the second intifada to incidents such as Hezbollah’s October 2000 kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers and its killing of six civilians at Kibbutz Matzuva in March 2002, this was not an unreasonable assumption.
Certainly, it was widely shared within the terrorist organization. Thus, Hussein Khalil, an aide to Nasrallah, assured the Lebanese Prime Minister on the first day of fighting that “things will calm down in 24 to 48 hours." Hezbollah MP Nawwar Sahil told Lebanese TV that "Israel will just retaliate a bit, bomb a couple of targets and that would be the end of it." Nasrallah himself later admitted that he “did not assess, not even by one percent that the kidnapping operation would result in such a wide scale war” and that, had he known, he “would not have carried it out at all.” This in itself was an admission of defeat, as Charles Krauthammer noted: “what real victor declares that, had he known, he would not have started the war that ended in triumph?”
Hezbollah’s defeat was compounded by UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which essentially ended the war on Israel’s terms. UN demands for Hezbollah’s disarmament and an embargo on its re-supply with weapons; its expulsion from the area south of the Litani river; and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and a 15,000-strong UNIFIL force in its place, seemed to vindicate Tehran’s claim that 1701 was a “Zionist document.” Confident of the UN’s commitment to implement its provisions, Israel withdrew from Lebanese territory and placed responsibility for its national security in international hands.
But this proved gravely imprudent. For, one year after Israel won the war, it is clear that the UN has lost it the peace.
Notwithstanding UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s recent assertion that UNIFIL “has helped to establish a new strategic military and security environment in southern Lebanon,” Hezbollah has largely rebuilt its military base. UNIFIL’s commander, Maj-Gen Claudio Graziano, recently assured the Jerusalem Post that he is “applying 1701 to the maximum” and that there is “no open hostile activity… no evidence of any rearmament… no one going around southern Lebanon with weapons." Any armed person -- “even a hunter," he insisted -- would be arrested by one of UNIFIL’s 400 daily patrols.
Yet, as early as November 2006, the IDF reported that Hezbollah was back on the border collecting intelligence. By January 2007, Israeli Military Intelligence was warning that Hezbollah had rebuilt much of what it lost in the war and, despite an increase in UNIFIL pro-activeness, it confirmed this assessment on June 4th. Two days later, ex-Chief of Staff and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Hezbollah had created a “double grip” on both sides of the Litani, rebuilding its military infrastructure not only in the south but in Beirut and the Beqa’a Valley as well. The fact that its operatives “don't walk around southern Lebanon in the open with the weapons, but rather are limited to ... urban areas that the LAF and UNIFIL do not enter” accounted, he said, for UN claims to the contrary.
The IDF shares his assessment, announcing in late July that Hezbollah was moving its rockets into Shi’ite villages in an effort to avoid detection. And just this week the British Sunday Telegraph reported that Hezbollah was buying up large tracts of non-Shiite owned lands in south Lebanon to further shield its activities from view.
Furthermore, while Hezbollah's focus on rehabilitation is keeping it quiet in south Lebanon, there is evidence that it is allowing al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists to act as its proxies. The June 18 katyusha attack on Kiryat Shmona and the killing of six Spanish UNIFIL personnel one week later could not have been carried out without its knowledge. The UNIFIL killings, although publicly condemned by Hezbollah, worked to further its ends, especially given the Spanish contingent’s reputation for forcefully implementing its mandate. The fact that some of UNIFIL’s national contingents have begun liaising with Hezbollah in an effort to guarantee their security demonstrates its ultimate control.
The UN has been equally ineffective in enforcing 1701’s demand for an embargo on Hezbollah's rearmament. Within three months of the ceasefire, Lebanese civilians living near the border with Syria were claiming that consignments of arms were being smuggled across at night. As much was confirmed by Nasrallah himself last February when, apropos the LAF’s seizure of a truckload near Beirut, he told a rally that Hezbollah was “secretly transporting weapons and Israel doesn’t know about it” (in fact, Israel’s Squadron 100 aerial reconnaissance unit had been closely monitoring their flow and storage for months).
Despite repeated Israeli requests for action such as UNIFIL’s deployment along the Syrian frontier, it took the UN until May to officially acknowledge the problem and establish the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT) to investigate. LIBAT reported back in late June that while the Lebanese security agencies “demonstrate a good level of understanding of the nature of their duties in relation to the provisions of Resolution 1701,” their lack of skills, resources and experience in patrolling a border that didn’t really exist during the decades-long Syrian occupation meant that current security measures are “insufficient” to prevent arms trafficking. (The fact that some LAF members are, due to blood or ideological kinship, actually assisting Hezbollah’s efforts is further complicating the situation).
Indeed, although Ban Ki-Moon reported on June 29th that Iran and Syria were transferring arms to Hezbollah “on a scale [which] would allow it to reach a level of armament equal to that of last year or beyond,” LIBAT was unable to document a single seizure during its three-week visit. On July 22nd, the IDF confirmed that Hezbollah had restored its pre-war military capabilities, including long-range missiles.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet this week to discuss the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate, which expires at the end of the month. But having given Hezbollah a year to overcome the consequences of last summer’s defeat, there is now nothing the UN can do prevent a Third Lebanon War.
***Sean Gannon is a freelance writer and researcher, specializing in Irish and Israeli affairs. He is currently preparing a book on the relationship between the two countries.

Excerpts: Arafat's widow.Syria impacts Lebanon. Turkey/Iraq Kurdish tensions 15 August 2007
ARAB NEWS ( Saudi) 15 Aug.'07:"Tunisia Strips Suha Arafat of Nationality"Bouazza Ben Bouazza, Associated Press -QUOTE:"She was the top heir of Arafat's vast fortunes"TUNIS, 15 August 2007 - Tunisia has stripped the widow of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of Tunisian citizenship, officials said yesterday.44-year-old Suha Arafat, who was born in Jerusalem and became a naturalized Tunisian last year, had lost her citizenship.No explanation was provided, nor was any reference made to Arafat's 12-year-old daughter Zahwa, who became a Tunisian citizen on the same day as her mother. Suha Arafat was believed to have left Tunisia, and news reports suggested she was in Malta. She had lived in Tunisia since Yasser Arafat died at a suburban Paris hospital in November 2004.. . .Born to a wealthy Christian
family, Suha Arafat once served as secretary to the famed Palestinian leader. They secretly married in 1990. She was the top heir to Arafat's vast fortunes, and owns a home in the upscale Gammarth neighborhood in northern Tunis.

THE DAILY STAR 15 Aug.'07:"Facing up to an army of presidents"
By Michael Young,Opinion Editor
--QUOTE:"If Syrians don't get their way, they will react brutally"-
Syria is pushing Lebanon toward an election whose effect will be the elevation of the army commander, Michel Suleiman, to the presidency . . .Suleiman's presidential ambitions are no longer a secret....he would accept heading a transitional government if Lebanon's politicians didn't agree over a candidate,...if the army commander presided over such a government, this would mean he could dispense with a constitutional amendment necessary for active senior state officials to stand for office.
..., Syria apparently is seeking to use the threat of a vacuum to push its favorite through.... it's the army that Syria wants to see win out.. . .Damascus is focused on bringing European pressure to bear on the majority to accept its candidate of choice. The tactic may well work. France, Spain and Italy, pillars of UNIFIL all, are determined not to allow a void at the top of the state, and if Suleiman is their way to avert that outcome, the March 14 coalition will find it hard to say no. . . .Lebanon always distinguished itself from other Arab countries by not chronically resorting to military men in times of strife. Yet now, with Emile Lahoud, Michel Aoun,
and Michel Suleiman in play, we find ourselves dodging berets. . .The obstacles are immense. If the Syrians don't get their way, they will react brutally.... Syria may be the least pleased with a vacuum - because the Hariri tribunal will advance anyway - the majority may be the one with time on its side. That's why it should act like a majority, be forceful on its priorities, and ensure that 2005 was not just a fantasy.

JORDAN TIMES 15 Aug.'07:"Through democratic means"
QUOTE: The agreement reached recently by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to end the presence of militias belonging to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) on Iraqi territory is bound to defuse the growing tension between the two countries, at least for the time being....they both appear ready to finalise a solid accord on the issue of the PKK in order to avert a Turkish invasion of northern Iraqi territory.... the party itself must reconsider the tactics it uses with the aim of attaining recognition and obtaining rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey. . .The PKK must adopt democratic tools to achieve its aspirations and not resort to military confrontations, especially of the kind that it cannot win in the end.The PKK must not spoil things for its people in Turkey and Iraq. It should lay down arms and seek democratic and peaceful methods to attain its rights.
***Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

Gaza Christians Living Under Growing Islamic Threat

By Ryan Jones Correspondent
August 16, 2007
Jerusalem ( - The few reports emerging from Gaza regarding the area's tiny Christian minority indicate that Palestinian followers of Jesus are under increasing pressure to either become Muslims, submit to Islamic law or leave the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group that won last year's Palestinian parliamentary elections, completed a military takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, handily defeating its rivals in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.
Following the conquest, spokesmen and various local officials affiliated with Hamas announced that an era of strict Islamic rule had begun in Gaza.
According to a report in Middle East Newsline last week, Hamas and its followers are moving fast against non-believers in the area. Fatah officials who spoke to the news service on condition of anonymity said Hamas is pressing leaders of the 2,000-strong Christian community to either convert to Islam or emigrate.
The Jerusalem Post earlier reported that Prof. Sana al-Sayegh, dean of the science and technology faculty at Palestine University and a Christian, had been abducted by several of her Muslim colleagues and forced to convert and marry a Muslim man.
Weeks after her disappearance in late June, al-Sayegh's family was invited to a meeting with several aides to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Surrounded by Hamas gunmen, a distraught and crying al-Sayegh informed her family that she had become a Muslim.
Hamas maintains that al-Sayegh's conversion was a matter of personal choice and that it is vigorously protecting the rights of Gaza's Christians, but Dr. Walid Phares, a leading Middle East expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Cybercast News Service that the exact opposite is true.
"Hamas states that it 'protects' minorities with the same energy as the Taliban and the Islamist regime in Sudan have stated before," said Phares. However, "the reality is that the Jihadist agenda of Hamas includes gradual but strict implementation of shari'a law.
"What that means for the Christians of Gaza, explained Phares, is that they will "be subjected to second-class citizen treatment."
Phares said that as a result of this increasing Islamic pressure, Gaza's Christian community is considering fleeing the area en masse. Many have already left.
Christians are not the only victims of Hamas' iron-fisted rule of Gaza. The group does not tolerate any hint of criticism or dissent, even from fellow Muslims.
On Monday, some 300 Palestinians violated a Hamas ban on public demonstrations and gathered in a central Gaza City square chanting, "We want freedom." Many more people were prevented from ever reaching the location.
Heavily armed Hamas militiamen quickly broke up the protest, wounding a large number of people with clubs and rifle butts, and arrested many others before subjecting them to long hours of interrogation.
Later in the day, Hamas forces raided the local offices of international and Palestinian news agencies and confiscated all coverage of the demonstration and the suppression of its participants.
The group reportedly also broken up a number of weddings where songs affiliated with the rival Fatah organization were being sung.
Throw into the mix the recent establishment of an Al Qaeda branch in Gaza, and you have a "recipe for Talibanization," noted Phares.